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Concern over workplace injury-related amputations

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the number of occupation-related amputations gives rise to concern. A workplace injury that leads to an amputation can happen in the blink of an eye. The agency says that over 90% of amputations nationwide, including in Oklahoma, involve fingers. However, amputations of other body parts like hands, feet and toes are also cited in workers' compensation claims. Too many workers are unable to continue working in their chosen occupations after amputation injuries.

Employers must protect the health and safety of workers by ensuring that the necessary safeguards and lockout/tagout devices are in place and used appropriately. Common hazards include mechanical presses, razors cutting fabric, and drill bits used for cutting holes. Also, energy transmitting equipment components, such as chains, belts, pulleys, connecting rods, flywheels, gears and cams can cause amputation injuries.

Other amputation hazards include reciprocating, rotating and traversing machinery parts. Workers must receive the necessary safety training to enable them to recognize amputation hazards and learn how to mitigate them. Work areas must be monitored to ensure that safeguards are not removed or bypassed.

Oklahoma workers who have suffered amputation injuries might have questions about the workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can answer questions and assist with the navigation of a benefits claim after a workplace injury. Compensation typically covers medical expenses and lost wages, but those whose amputations caused permanent disabilities might receive additional benefits. This could include vocational rehabilitation to equip amputation victims with new skills, and assistance in seeking alternate occupations.

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